The same players as last week, Doyle Brunson, Phil Laak, Eli Elezra, Tom “durrrr” Dwan, Mike Baxter, Dario Minieri, David “Viffer” Peat and Alan Meltzer, returned for episode 13 of High Stakes Poker, which was the season finale. Once again, the blinds were $400-$800, with an ante of $200.
The very first hand saw four players to the flop. After Meltzer called with an unsuited A-8, and Elezra and Brunson followed suit with and A-8 offsuit respectively, Dwan raised to $5,000 with pocket fives. All three players then called, and saw a flop of J-8-A, with two hearts. Dwan checked, and Meltzer bet $20,000 with his two pair. Elezra, who was up about $250,000 from the previous two weeks’ play, called with his flush draw, but Brunson, with the same hand as Meltzer, raised to $95,000, and Meltzer pushed all-in for $172,800! With $309,800 in the pot, Elezra agonized over his decision, going so far as to start to put the money in, but he finally folded, fearing a better flush draw. Brunson called, and Elezra was chagrined to see that BOTH the turn and river were hearts, which would have given him the pot, rather than having Meltzer and Brunson chop it up.
After having Peat try to get under his skin for folding what turned out to be the winner, Elezra raised to $3,000 with . Peat called with , as did Meltzer with A-8 offsuit. The flop brought K-Q-8, with two diamonds. Meltzer bet $3,000 with bottom pair, Elezra called and Peat, with the baby flush draw, raised to $10,000. Meltzer folded, but Elezra called, leaving $34,000 in the pot. The turn brought the . Elezra checked, and Peat continued his aggression with a pot-sized bet of $35,000. Elezra folded the best hand.
Next, Peat called with an offsuit A-J, Melzter did the same with A-10 unsuited, and Baxter raised to $4,000 with . Minieri re-raised to $17,000 with an unsuited 8-7, and Peat then put in a huge raise to $60,800, which caused everyone to lay down their hands. Peat once again showed that he had a good read on the different players at the table, and his aggressiveness had begun to pay dividends.
Peat led out the next hand by calling with , Dwan also called with pocket aces, as did Baxter , Minieri and Laak, who checked his big blind option with an unsuited 6-4. The flop was 7-A-3, with two hearts. After three checks, Dwan bet $2,200, Baxter raised to $8,200 with the nut flush draw, and after the other players folded, Dwan re-raised to $19,700, which Baxter called. The turn was the , and Dwan chose to check and slow-play his top set, giving Baxter a free card to catch his flush. The river was the , and now Dwan bet $33,400 into the $45,000 pot. Baxter decided to call, and was stunned to see Dwan’s pocket aces. Dwan was very fortunate twice on this hand, as Baxter would certainly not have called unless a king came on the river, and he would have beaten Dwan had he rivered the flush. But, along with some great play at points during the season, Dwan has also had more than his share of good fortune. That would come into play again later in the show.
Elezra put on the live straddle on the next hand, and Laak raised to $4,600 with J-10 offsuit. Elezra called with , and the flop brought 7-Q-9, with one spade. Elezra, with bottom two pair, led out with $8,000, Laak raised to $24,000 with his open-ended straight draw, and Elezra re-raised to $55,000. Laak then went all-in for $128,800, and Elezra called. The players decided to run it twice, but after a turn of and a river of , followed by , the second time around, Elezra took down the $269,600 pot, felting Laak, who chose to re-buy for another $250,000. After the hand, Elezra was now up over $340,000 for this series of episodes.
Dwan raised the next hand to $3,000 with K-J offsuit, which Baxter called with Q-8 unsuited, as did Elezra ) Brunson and Minieri (unsuited 10-7). The flop was K-4-9, with two clubs. Brunson and Minieri checked, and Dwan bet $8,700 into the $16,600 pot, which only Brunson, with the nut flush draw, called. The turn was the , giving Brunson top pair. Dwan continued to fire at the pot, putting $24,100 more in the middle, which Brunson once more called. The river brought the , and Brunson once more checked to Dwan, who fired the third bullet, this time $47,800, which Brunson called, winning the $177,800 pot. Elezra was surprised Doyle didn’t raise, but he explained there was no reason to do so, since Dwan wouldn’t be able to call with anything that was a losing hand. Chalk one up for the old-school player!
The next hand saw more good, aggressive play from David Peat. He put on the live straddle, and then, after Baxter raised to $5,000 with an unsuited A-7, called with J-10 offsuit. The flop of 3-Q-K, with two clubs, missed Baxter completely, but gave Peat the up-and-down straight draw. Baxter made a continuation bet of $11,500 after Peat checked, and “Viffer” called. When the came on the turn, Peat checked once again, and so did Baxter, giving up the lead in the betting. When an innocuous fell on the river, Peat immediately bet $25,000, and Baxter folded.
Meltzer started the next hand with a raise to $3,000 with K-Q unsuited. Baxter chose just to call with pocket tens, which would have a huge impact on the rest of the hand, as it allowed Elezra to come in with , Minieri to join in with and Peat to play with pocket fives. The flop was K-9-3, giving three different players top pair.
After Peat checked, Meltzer led out with $8,200 (the pot contained $17,400), and Baxter folded his tens. Elezra then raised to $17,100, and Minieri three-bet to $50,000. Peat folded, Meltzer called, and Elezra, knowing his kicker would not allow him to win, folded. With $134,500 in the pot, the fell on the turn. Both players checked, and the on the river caused them to check it to the showdown, which Meltzer won. Baxter was left to ponder the fact that he would have made quads had he been more aggressive pre-flop and knocked most of the other players out of the hand.
Peat once again put the live straddle on the next hand, and Meltzer called with yet another unsuited A-8. Mimieri raised to $9,000 with pocket aces, Peat called with , and Meltzer folded. With $22,000 in the pot, the flop was 5-10-10. Minieri bet $11,000, and Peat raised to $30,000, yet another very smart play from “Viffer”. This induced Minieri to go all-in for his last $111,700, which Peat naturally called, creating a pot of $245,400. The players ran it twice, but with Meltzer having folded an ace, Minieri was drawing almost dead. When the and fell the first time, and the the next, Peat took it down, and Minieri was busted, and chose to leave the game.
Laak raised the next hand to $2,400 with . Dwan then re-raised to $9,300 with J-8 offsuit, and Meltzer smooth-called with pocket kings. Laak decided to fold, and with the pot at $23,600, the flop brought Q-7-10, with all three cards being clubs. Dwan bet out $20,300, but folded after Meltzer raised to $75,300.
The same two players were to face-off in the very last hand of the season. After Laak raised to $3,100 with pocket fives, and was called by Peat with , Dwan re-raised to $14,000 with J-10 offsuit, and Meltzer popped it to $30,000 with pocket kings again! Dwan was the only one to call, and the flop came 3-A-10. Although Meltzer couldn’t have liked the ace, he still bet $30,000 into the $68,400 already in the middle, which Dwan called (???) with middle pair. This was yet another questionable play by Dwan, who was down about $250,000 in this session, after running over the table with the other two groups. However, the on the turn put Dwan in the lead, and after Meltzer checked, he bet $46,200, which Meltzer called, putting the pot at $220,800. The river was the !, filling Dwan’s boat, and after Meltzer checked, Dwan pushed all-in for $146,800. Meltzer, having made a good call against Dwan earlier in the season, and not wanting to get bluffed out by “durrrr”, called, giving Dwan the $514,400 pot, and putting him in the black for the third straight session.
From my vantage point, this was probably the most entertaining season of High Stakes Poker to date. The mix of young and old, conservative and aggressive, and live and Internet players made for some fascinating meta-game plays and some dramatic swings in fortune. We can only hope that High Stakes Poker continues on into a sixth season, and lives on for many years to come, as it is consistently the most enjoyable poker show on television.
*Read Clearspine’s Blog*